There are lots of things that contribute towards a great frequent flyer program. Obviously award redemption rates and award availability are both important, but there’s also something to be said for the ease with which you can search and book award seats.
American’s website is fairly good when it comes to searching award availability. Their website is my favorite for searching space for the airlines that they do display, given that you can search nonstop award availability on any partner that they display for a month at a time (at least this is the case when you’re using the old version of their website).
The catch is that American doesn’t display all partner airlines online. Fortunately this is something they’ve been working on, and they’ve now added another partner airline to aa.com.
You can now book Etihad awards on aa.com
American Airlines has just added award redemptions on Etihad to aa.com.
That’s quite a positive development, and means there are only a few airlines remaining that they don’t display availability for online.
Etihad is one of my favorite AAdvantage partners, so I’d consider this to be good news.
American’s website doesn’t show all Etihad awards
The bad news — or good news, depending on how you look at it — is that aa.com is only showing a subset of Etihad award availability.
More accurately, American’s website is just showing the award availability that American’s call center agents in the US can see. What this means is that they can generally see premium award availability to & from the US within a month of departure, but often not further out than that.
For example, here you can see Etihad shows business class award space from Abu Dhabi to New York at the “Guest Business” level, which is their lowest award cost that is also usually bookable through American:
American’s website doesn’t show that space, however.
Fortunately there continues to be a workaround. Calling American’s call center in Australia should give you access to all of the “Guest” space that Etihad’s own program has access to.
The double edged sword of online award bookings
Now, while I’m generally excited about this development, I do think it’s worth mentioning that making award availability easier to search makes the research process easier for everyone, though it’s arguably not good for savvy consumers.
That’s because it means that these limited award seats can more easily be found by more people, and that increases the competition for these seats.
A vast majority of people don’t even realize you can redeem American miles on Etihad, and for that matter wouldn’t even know how to search space themselves.
I guess the good news is that the real “trick” to getting Etihad awards using American miles — which requires calling American Airlines’ call center in Australia — remains intact.
It’s great to see American AAdvantage add Etihad redemptions to aa.com. This is a positive development, though it seems only a subset of award availability is showing up there. As before, if you want access to all of Etihad’s “Guest” award availability you’ll have to phone up American’s call center in Australia.
Are you happy to see American add Etihad redemptions online?
(Tip of the hat to @xJonNYC)